Whiskey Jacks hold off Highlanders

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Pelasio Vereakula avoided a tackle attempt from a Regina Highlanders player as he scored a try for the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks Saturday afternoon.

After dominating the first half of play Saturday afternoon at Max Clunie Field, the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks found themselves trying to stave off a dominant second half showing from the Regina Highlanders.

That’s when Pelasio Vereakula took things into his own hands.

Vereakula, who is from Fiji and now resides in Birch Hills with his wife and newborn child after living the last seven years in Australia, raced in for a try from 70 yards out in the final minutes of the match as he helped his team pick up a 24-12 win.

“That was a little bit tiring,” Vereakula joked after the match. “We have a few key players out at the moment with injuries, so we’ve had a few guys out of position which makes things pretty tiring in the course of a game.

“I’m really proud of how the boys and played and how we held on until the end. It’s my first season here and it’s great to see how much we’ve improved from when the season begins.”

Vereakula ended up scoring three tries for the Whiskey Jacks, who built up a 19-0 lead in the first half that included a try and two converts from Colm Cournane.

“We were really good in the first half by sticking to the game plan, but we got a bit complacent and slipped a little bit, especially with our tacking,” Vereakula said.

“I think a lot of that comes down to our mental fitness. In this game, your mental makeup is a huge factor in determining whether you win or lose games. Although we’re in control of the game, we’ve got a little bit lazy and started to think things were getting easy for us. I think if we communicate a little bit better out there, that won’t be an issue for us.”

Dean Mason and Matt Cook both had tries for the Highlanders, who have lost all three meetings to the Whiskey Jacks this season.

“We played a lot better than we did previously against Prince Albert,” Highlanders coach Greg Toews said. “We got a mixture of young experienced players and older guys on our roster, and we were able to give the Whiskey Jacks a really good match.”

The Whiskey Jacks, who now have a 5-3 record, will be back in action Wednesday night on the road to take on the Saskatoon Badgers.

They will then wrap up their regular season slate against the Saskatoon Krems at Max Clunie Field on Thursday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.